In onion there is strength

The traders were heartless to the helpless farmers because the latter shied away from their cold storage facilities.

Onions signify strength against disease, and the smell of a hot dish so well fried in onions strengthens humankind’s appetite for a special cuisine.

Onions are a source of economic strength — you can buy them for P8 per kilo in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, and sell the same for P700 in Metro Manila.

Such is the hunger for money and bread, illustrating the inhumanity of traders to the hapless farmers of San Jose and Magsaysay, Occidental Mindoro. These traders, worse than the harabas pest that destroyed metric tons of onions worth a hundred million, destroyed the human spirit of one farmer who committed suicide out of utter dismay after losing everything that she owned and valued in life.

Past and some current officials of the Department of Agriculture have a distorted sense of direction and values. Their plans are counterproductive and inimical to the interests and welfare of our farmers and our people. Most of the time the department is on the side of the traders.

The case of one kilo of onions purchased by a trader for P8 from a hapless farmer and selling the same for P700 at the height of the shortage is a global shame. This is the appropriate time to apply the Benhur Abalos solution. Ask all the DA planners to tender their resignations.

If you do not change the people, the same things will happen again; they will continue to do the same — collude with the traders to make money. Commission on Audit auditors are out there, but when people ask them why they can’t stop this monkey business, they will answer you, “sa post audit lang po kami.” (We only do post audit).

Yes, that is correct. But it is the duty of CoA as master planners to keep management aware of the level of availability of supply of this fundamental item in the life of every Filipino — that no one will ever be wanting.

Congress should consider changing the audit system.

Before CoA state auditors are sent out on field assignments, they are required to complete a course on value-for-money audits. This includes mastery of agency plans, programs, and projects.

The traders were heartless to the helpless farmers because the latter shied away from their cold storage facilities. The traders were so far away that the farmers were forced to sell their onions so cheaply because they could not afford the cost of transporting them miles away. This reminds us of the irony — the failure of the Proceso Alcala administration to implement the farm-to-market road development program, which instead incurred a loss of P451 billion in the fiasco.

It was in January 2022, or even earlier, when onion prices in Occidental Mindoro increased. The Department of Agriculture allocated a P5 million financial grant each to eight cooperatives as an investment to purchase onions.

Meanwhile, the harabas pest damaged 5,300 metric tons of onions valued at P99 million. The month before, farmers were forced to throw away their harvested onions or just let their crops rot because they could not sell them in markets that were miles away. Transportation costs were too high. The traders did not buy their onions. Traders have control of storage, they can keep their unsold supply.

Before going any further on the economic strength of onions, let us go back to many of its wonderful strengths. Farmers for centuries have cultivated onions or allium vegetables.

Onions contain antioxidants and compounds that fight inflammation, decrease triglycerides and reduce cholesterol levels, all of which may lower heart disease risk. Their potent anti-inflammatory properties may also reduce high blood pressure and protect against blood clots. Onions contain a wealth of chemicals that help fight cancer. Onions are among the richest food source of nutrients.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, China is the largest producer of onions worldwide.

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